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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Disappointment over EU cosmetics decision

woman applying lipstickThe EU Cosmetics Directive places restrictions on the use of animals to test the safety of cosmetics and their ingredients. Testing of cosmetics on animals has been banned in the EU since 2009 but it is still possible to sell cosmetics which were tested on animals outside the EU. The test ban was extended to 2013 to cover five remaining safety questions. 


Many organisations have expressed their concern about any further extension of the deadline. FRAME’s views on the deadline, and the proposal to extend it beyond 2013, were published in its scientific journal ATLA  last year (Click here to read the article).


FRAME believes there should be no further delay because the issues being raised are not scientifically justified. Some of the tests could already be replaced with non-animal methods and others relate to safety standards that are more suited to pharmaceutical products than cosmetics.


FRAME’s main objection is that the remaining safety questions are related to products that are ingested during testing, rather than applied to the skin as cosmetics are.


For example, repeated dose toxicity tests (which are carried out on rats) focus on the effects of substances on the body’s major organs, but do not consider how much of a test substance is likely to reach those organs through cosmetic application.   FRAME believes that these tests could be replaced with more suitable ones that use human skin models.


In the case of carcinogenicity tests FRAME believes that past scientific investigation has shown that animal data are not adequate to demonstrate whether or not a substance is likely to cause cancer in humans. 


As part of the EU consultation process FRAME recommended that more emphasis should be placed on developing tests that measure how much of a substance would pass through skin as a result of cosmetic use, and other tests, using human tissue or experience, to determine whether they can actually harm humans.


Archived May 24, 2011